I love a surprise

I haven’t been on my bicycle since Friday. Both Saturday and Sunday were packed with events and along with that it was pretty soggy any time I did have a little freedom. Not to worry though, I was basking in the good vibes from Friday.

Things didn’t start out so good. Most of Friday was spent shifting an outdoor event I had planned for Saturday evening to a “plan B” indoor event. While I had it all sorted out by late Friday afternoon, I was pretty fried. While I had planned to go and ride some, I was now second guessing the idea.

JosiahThat is when I got a text from the Beautiful Redhead. She was letting me know that she and Thing Three would be going on a bike ride down the SRT. She mentioned that she hoped that I could catch up with them.

Well, the decision was made. I would be riding after all. The more I thought about it, the better I felt about it.

Before long I was on the bike and heading to Cleveland Park. I wasn’t sure how long it would be before I caught them. I probably depended on where they started their ride.

I kept looking ahead and trying to find two people riding together that had the general shape of my family. Nearing Blue Ridge, I thought I recognized them. Sure, enough I was soon riding along with them toward Furman where they planned to stop and return home.

It was fun riding along with my chatterbox of a 9-year old. Annette was following more behind us. We continued this way until we stopped by the lake at Furman.

They would head back the way we came. I would continue on and go over the mountain. If it took them as long to get back as it did to get where we were, I would probably beat them home.

We said goodbye and I started off to the base of Altamont Road. I was curious to see how things would go. My calf muscles and Achilles tendons had been bothering me for a couple of days. At that moment, they didn’t feel so bad, but sometimes climbing makes things worse.

I hit the start line with a simple plan. Don’t worry about power. Don’t worry about time. Just try to keep an average speed over 10 mph. If I could do that, I would reach the top in around 12 minutes.

My computer face was reading speed, average speed and cadence. At first I was being thrown off by the speed field. It was jumping all over the place and not much of it was over 10 mph. However, as I looked at the average, I could see it was climbing until I finally stopped looking at the speed and focused on the 10.6 mph in the average speed field.

In the first segment from the start to the first turn I averaged 11.1 mph. From that turn to the water tower segment I increased the average to 11.8. On the water tower segment I grunted up at 9.7 mph. This still had me averaging over 10 mph through one of the harder sections.

I made up for it between the top of the tower section and the halfway there point. By covering the section with an average of 12 mph, I was pleased to have a 10.6 average to work with. I knew it would go down. The question was how much?

Things start getting tough for me at this point. I figure it is mental more than anything. However, I was happy with the average and I was feeling pretty good. The average speed from halfway to the Blue Post of Death was 9.8.

It was at the blue post that I started to think this could be a good time. Not a record breaking time, but a solid finish that would be the best of 2013. I would really have to croak in order to not get under 13 minutes.

These thoughts spurred me on to keep that average. My next segment would be from the Blue Post of Death to The Wall. The grade improves a bit once you pass the post and you start getting encouraged as you can count down the turns to the yellow 15 mph warning sign that to me signifies the star of The Wall.

That segment rolled under the wheels with an average of 10.2 mph. It would now all come down to how fast I could climb The Wall. I shifted down and stood to give it the best I could. I pushed it up and didn’t let up until I got over the line. My mind just kept telling me that I was definitely going to make it under 13 minutes.

I crossed the line having averaged 8.5 mph for that final segment and 10.7 mph for the entire climb. I pushed my lap button and looked down. I thought I was seeing 12:24. Wow, that would make me happy seeing I hadn’t climbed in under 13:05 at any point this year.

Rolling home I was a happy camper. It wasn’t just because of the good time. It was mainly because my legs were feeling good. The heaviness I mentioned a few posts ago was gone. I actually felt I had some power when I reached the first kick up after cresting the top of the mountain.

Getting home I uploaded the information and was pleasantly surprised to see that Strava listed me climbing in 12:19. That is only one second off my best time since I’ve started using the service. I was tied with my second best time from May of last year.

Maybe next time I’ll aim to keep the average over 11 mph.

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About Jonathan Pait

Jonathan started riding mountain bikes in the early 1990s. After discovering the ride can start at the end of his driveway, he moved to the road in 2006. Little did he know that first pedal stroke would lead him on an adventure that has become much larger than the bicycle.